Smooth, calendered surfaces
Calendered paper acquires its very smooth, glossy surface by being compressed between heated rollers after leaving the paper machine. Watercolours appear that much more brilliant on this surface. Glossy surfaces are excellent for the finest detailed drawings, glazes and washes, where the paint can be removed again. These papers are however not as suitable for large-scale wet in wet work.
Matte surfaces are used for delicate paintings and are suitable for beginners because of their slightly irregular surface that impacts only slightly on brush control and paint flow. These surfaces can be recommended for all watercolour painters who like to work with fine details. Users can obtain full brush strokes in the wet in dry technique and even glowing colour gradation using the wet in wet technique.
Rough surfaces are integrated in the painting and produce bold pictures with relief effects.
The rough, irregular, grainy structure makes watercolours appear more vivid and is the most popular surface. The textured surface is created either directly during production on the cylinder mould machine or by an embossing process after production.
Rapid brush strokes on dry surfaces, lightly applied, leave unpainted areas on the surface. White “points of light” in the hollows of the surface that have not filled with paint lend the painting an attractive appearance. In the wet painting technique, the deeper areas take on more colour. This creates light/dark effects that contribute to the brilliancy of the colours. Paint can be removed from these papers right down to the original white. (Exceptions to this are papers containing rag). This surface is ideal for atmospheric paintings, for two-dimensional colour application and for extreme wet in wet techniques.
Extra rough surfaces.
This distinctive surface emphasizes the “points of light” effect. When using this surface it is best to work with the wet technique using ready mixed paints.
The term torchon comes from the French and is associated with a very coarse linen structure.
Papers with this designation have a distinctive undulating surface structure. Paints flow differently on these papers than on the other watercolour papers. With wet in wet most colours bleed a lot and produce prominent halos. In addition the colour is integrated into the sizing creating brilliant pictures. Torchon papers are not suitable for beginners but are predestined for experienced painters.
As a rule of thumb:
If you want to paint in more detail and realistically then matte surfaces are recommended. For generous, painterly methods or grainy techniques rough and torchon surfaces are more suitable.